Nearly everyone subscribes to some kind of superstition—like never ever walking under a ladder—whether they admit it in public or not. But Southerners take these old traditions to heart. And to stomach. From when to plant vegetables to how many people to invite to dinner, if you meet a Southerner who likes to cook or grow a garden, you may get an earful about best practices for ensuring good luck in love, money and life. The superstitions might seem a little silly (and dated) at times, but if you can’t prove these ole’ lowcountry ways of cookin’, growin’ and eatin’ are right, you might not be able to prove them wrong, either. Here are some of the most-believed Southern food superstitions:
Bury some bourbon at your wedding site so it doesn’t rain.
While some might say that it’s good luck to have rain on your wedding day, if you usually have sunny, 80-something weather all April, May and June-long in the South, you’ll likely beg to differ. But Southerners have a trick for keeping the clouds at bay: Once they pick a spot to hold their wedding, they bury some bourbon (yep, you read that right) at the site. This will keep the showers from ruining their big day. (And maybe they could dig it up to drink at the reception?)
Never eat both sides of the bread before you eat the middle, or you won't be able to make ends meet.
If your bank account causes your tummy to rumble, or you’re nervous about making the mortgage, Southerners would bless your heart while they hand you some bread. They’ll make sure to add, humbly of course, that the way you eat the bread can predict your financial status: If you eat both sides before you nibble on the middle, you’ll struggle to make ends meet.
If a man and woman pour tea together, they'll conceive in a year.
Trying to have a baby? Or know a couple ready to start their family? To aid with um, fertility, Southern grandmas and mamas might suggest the pair pour some tea together. It can be hot, but Southerners prefer iced. This afternoon tea time will ensure they get pregnant within a year.
Never invite 13 guests to dinner, or one will have bad luck.
If you’re hosting a BBQ, potluck or a family reunion, Southerners might suggest a careful word of caution on the number of guests that you invite. While 12 is okay and 14 is fine-and-dandy (as they’d say), if you invite 13, one of them will find bad luck.
If your fruit trees are in full bloom and it comes a thunder, your orchard is about to die.
If you’re scrubbin’ the dishes while you look out the window to your fruit trees, admiring how well they’re taking to the sunshine and recent rain, try to turn your hearing off. Because, as a Southern farmer will tell you, hearing thunder in the distance while your fruit is blooming is an omen that it's about to bite the dust.
If you spill salt, you should throw some over your left shoulder.
Ask someone to pass you the mash taters (ahem, mashed potatoes) during dinner and you accidentally knock over the salt shaker? If you’re sitting at a Southern table, you might hear an audible gasp, while grandma anxiously eyes you to pick up the lost salt and throw it over your left shoulder to rid you of the bad luck.
If your cup of coffee has bubbles on the surface and they float in your direction, you'll come into some money.
Next time you’re feeling stressed about your to-do list (both at home and at work), take an extra moment in the morning when you’re downing your daily cup of joe. If you look closely into your coffee and you notice some bubbles, see which direction they’re floating: toward you? Away? If they come your way, Southerners suggest that you’re about to come into money.
If you end up with two forks on your plate, it’s a sign of a wedding.
Here comes the… fork? As you set up a table or clear away the dirty dishes while everyone’s digesting with a pitcher of sweet tea, take note of where the silverware ends up. If two forks lay by themselves on a plate, Southerners might start eyeing your left hand. After all, those two forks apparently symbolize a wedding is about to happen.
Don’t plant potatoes before Good Friday.
If you’re lookin’ to keep your potatoes healthy and plentiful, wait until you wear your Sunday best to Good Friday services before you plant them. While the return of Jesus and potatoes aren’t one-and-the-same, Southern folk swear that nothin’ good happens in the potato fields until after that day comes and goes. (And for all wisdom relating to plentiful gardens, Southerners trust the Farmer’s Almanac as the Bible of growing.)
Eat black-eyed peas, cabbage and collard greens on New Year's day for luck and money.
Forget New Year’s resolutions: To ensure a great year ahead, one that’s full of good luck and lots of cash, Southerners make sure they eat a very special meal on January 1: black-eyed peas (which represent coins), cabbage and ham (which represent health) and collard greens (which represent bills). Legend has it that the more you eat, the more you’ll receive in the coming year.
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